Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Meet the new Dungeon Master

Just when you thought you were safe from Guantánamo... now you just get thrown in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. The New York Times Editorial rightly attacks the Obama administration on this:

"In February, the new administration disappointingly followed the example of the Bush White House in opposing judicial review for prisoners who have been indefinitely detained at Bagram without any charges or access to lawyers. The administration has now added to that disappointment by appealing a new federal court ruling extending the right of habeas corpus to some Bagram detainees."

Habeas corpus doesn't generally extend to theaters of war. So, the military has been transferring prisoners from hell and gone- including Guantánamo, and most importantly, including people who were not picked up on the battlefield- to Bagram to avoid due process. So, once again, you can be arrested in America, held indefinitely in Afghanistan, and never have the chance to defend yourself, or even stand trial. We (those of us who were paying attention) came to expect this sort of abuse from the Bush administration. But the Obama administration has no argument whatsoever for defending and extending these policies, aside from: a. being unduly fond of the Bush regime, or b. being not so fond of civil liberties.

6 comments:

Brian Dunbar said...

It's got nothing to do with the Bush administration.

It has everything to do with grabbing power.

Because they can.

Because that's what politicians do when they can get away with it.

See Charles I, Nixon, Louis XIV, etc etc.

Rufus said...

Well, yes and no...

What I said back when it was the Bush administration grabbing these powers was that more Republicans should be outraged because the next party to get into office wasn't going to cede any of these 'extraordinary' powers, probably not ever. i remember joking, "How will you feel when President Hillary has all these powers?" I was wrong about who it would be, but so far, it looks like I was right about the response of the next administration.

So, in that sense, I don't see where it matters what administration is in power- Republican or Democrat, they're not going to cede these powers without a fight, if they do at all.

But it does have, you know, something to do with the Bush administration grabbing as much power as they could, just as it has something to do with the Obama administration deciding that excessive state power suits them fine now that they're in office. There are people who did these things and they should be the target of our ire.

And, in a lot of ways, it has more to do with the people who support these parties deciding that it's okay with them when it's their guy doing it. Republicans cheered on the creation of a massive, overreaching police state- and now it doesn't suit them so well. Funny that. Hopefully, there will be a few progressives that won't turn out to be the same sort of lickspittles- the NYTimes editorial and Keith Olbermann raising hell might be a good sign though.

bdunbar said...

Republicans cheered on the creation of a massive, overreaching police state- and now it doesn't suit them so well. There is that. But I don't recall a lot of people I know - as opposed to Pundits who Publish in the Papers - who thought that any of that was a really good idea.

Rufus said...

That's right. Well, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but your blog has always struck me as basically more libertarian than Republican. So, it could be that you and I just know more libertarians than hardcore GOP members (who are apparently a vanishing breed anyway).

What I saw with the party faithful back in the heyday of this nonsense wasn't that they'd call you anti-American or anything like that if you brought the dangers of this stuff up- they'd just say you were being hysterical and paranoid. And, now that we have Obama, I'm willing to bet that you'd get a similar response if you wrote about these issues on, say, the Huffington Post or Daily KOS.

It seems to me that part of the reason that politicians are so adept at grabbing power is that so many people have gotten used to responding to "crises": terrorism, illegal immigration, drug abuse, right-wing militias, pirates, pollution, stock market speculation, economic collapse, etc. etc. by saying, "Ohmygod! Somebody in the government has to do something! Now!" But, if you watch CNN, it seems like there are always crises. So the government always has to do something to save us. And that inevitably means more government intrusion and more bureaucracy.

We need to start responding to these panics by saying, "Well, okay, there's a problem. But, if we create a whole new government department to deal with it, how will we ever get rid of that department? And is it really worth it? What are the drawbacks here?"

Brian Dunbar said...

It seems to me that part of the reason that politicians are so adept at grabbing power is that so many people have gotten used to responding to "crises"... by saying, "Ohmygod! Somebody in the government has to do something! Now!"I wish that more people would realize that the only effective response to 9/11 was by civilians, acting on their own initiative.

The rest was the government reacting badly to having terrorists slip out of the fourth dimension to slit our throats.

Rufus said...

I got the feeling they were trying to re-fight the Cold War since that went well for them. The problem is that there's a big difference between feuding with the largest country on earth and all its allies and fighting with a few hundred mutants in a cave somewhere. I don't know if the govt. response is the largest overreaction in my lifetime, but it's got to be close.